Proto-Indo-European refers to the single ancestor language common to all Indo-European languages. It is therefore a linguistic concept, not an ethnic, social or cultural one, so there is no direct evidence of the nature of Proto-Indo-European 'society'. Much depends on the unsettled Indo-European homeland debate as to where and when this common ancestor language was spoken. All interpretations of whatever aspects this society may have had, thus including all those reported here, are therefore only inferences, not established facts, using three main approaches.
- Some interpretations are based on archaeology, but this entails making the assumption that one of the homeland hypotheses is in fact correct.
- Another approach has been the comparative analysis of modern or at least historically known societies speaking languages of the Indo-European family, also widely seen as questionable, even the principal tenet, the Trifunctional hypothesis.
- Linguistic reconstruction makes it possible to identify particular words (those cited *thus on this page, with a preceding asterisk) which are taken to have formed part of the vocabulary of the Proto-Indo-European language. These are reconstructed on the basis of sound laws, however, which are not paralleled by any 'meaning laws', so it is less certain exactly what these terms may have referred to at the stage of Proto-Indo-European. The technique of inferring culture from such reconstructions, known as linguistic palaeontology, is therefore open to criticism, and the same word is open to multiple different interpretations.
What follows in this page are interpretations based only on the assumption of the Kurgan hypothesis of Indo-European origins, and are by no means universally accepted.
Famous quotes containing the word society:
“I said there was a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in the art of proving by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of the people are as slaves.”
—Jonathan Swift (16671745)